Archive for May, 2012

… in which the Chip Rogers story gets more interesting

There has long been something mysterious and untold about the story involving Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, U.S. Rep. Tom Graves and the failed hotel investment in North Georgia that they tried to shrug off onto a businessman with record fo financial troubles.

Some of those questions are answered in a well-told, well-researched and highly entertaining story at Jim Walls’ Atlanta Unfiltered website. It casts Rogers, a staunch and at times conspiratorial social conservative, in an entirely new light to say the least.

More than that I should not say, because it might spoil the story. If you have a few minutes over this beautiful holiday weekend, it’s highly recommended.

– Jay Bookman

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In memory of what might have been, but couldn’t be …

France Nuyen, left, as Liat in the movie "South Pacific"

France Nuyen, left, as Liat in the movie "South Pacific"

Ahhhh, the enduring power of young crushes and lost loves.

I still remember Miss Osborne, the beautiful third-grade teacher who stole my young heart. But the fickle wench went and broke that heart when she returned to school next year as Mrs. Jamison.

Tom Middleton remembers too. As he tells us:

“Remember “South Pacific” and Bloody Mary’s daughter, Liat (pronounced Leah)? Since that movie first came out in the early ’50s, there were several popular songs that followed called “Leah,” and I suspect that I’m not the only one who fell in love with Bloody Mary’s daughter “Leah,” though I was very young at the time.

Anyway, I think Roy Orbison’s is the best, and every time I hear it, you guessed it – it’s me and Leah all over again. So am I sappy or what?”

Yes, Tom, you are sappy. But here’s Roy Orbison, breaking your heart once again to kick off the long weekend.

– Jay …

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Mitt Romney’s plan to federalize education reform

“What we do not need are prescriptive top-down mandates emanating from Washington D.C., which are so fashionable among many in the nation’s capital.”

– Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in his foreword to Mitt Romney’s “white paper” on education.

Promises such as that have become boiler-plate in Republican campaigns, which take as a given that there is no problem that cannot and should not be attributed to meddling by the federal government.

However, in reading Romney’s 35-page education white paper (more on that later), I was struck by the contradiction between that boiler-plate promise and the long string of new requirements that Romney would place on state and local governments.

They include, and I quote (emphasis mine):

“Require states to adopt open-enrollment policies for students receiving Title I and IDEA funds, and to eliminate caps on charter and digital schools.” (Note: This part of the Romney plan would create a federally funded school voucher system, using federal …

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The Five Rules of Republican Deficit-cutting

Republican president candidates all raise their hands in a debate signifying their opposition to a deficit deal that would raise taxes by $1 for every $10 in spending cuts. See Rules C and D below.

Republican president candidates all raise their hands in a debate signifying their opposition to a deficit deal that would raise taxes by $1 for every $10 in spending cuts. See Rules C and D below.

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The budget debate in Washington has become depressingly familiar:

On one side, we’ve got people insisting that federal spending has to be slashed because the deficit has become such a terrible load on the economy, and we have to start living within our means immediately.

Then we’ve got people who take the exact opposite course, arguing that slashing federal spending would be foolish because it would hurt the economy and cost jobs at a time when jobs are hard to come by.

“The whole point here is to try to get some economic growth, job creation, to get out of this recession,” one senator said this week in opposing proposed budget cuts. “Why would we risk going backward with policy that even CBO says would be the wrong prescription right now?”

In this case, however, the …

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Anonymous blog commenters threaten democracy … really

Legislators in New York have found the enemy, and that enemy is YOU.

Yes, you. Those of you sitting out there reading this and getting ready to respond anonymously in comments below. You are the problem, and they have the answer to that problem:

comment

That’s right. Under bills filed in both the New York Senate and Assembly, it would no longer be legal for blogs, social media outlets, newspapers and other Internet outlets to allow anonymous commenting. All commenters would be required to post under their real name, and the blog administrator would be required to have on file the commenters’ home addresses, phone numbers and email address.

As Wired reports, Assemblyman Jim Conte defends the legislation as necessary to cut down on “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks.” The requirement would “turn the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”

Thomas O’Mara, the Senate sponsor, believes it “help lend some accountability to the Internet …

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Is it time to rethink national policy on marijuana?

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 56 percent of Americans would support legalizing marijuana and regulating it much as alcohol and tobacco are regulated, while just 36 percent say they’re opposed.

Those are pretty strong numbers, suggesting that criminal law in this country is strongly out of line with public sentiment. We’re sending people to jail — most of them basically kids — and in some cases sticking them with felony criminal records for involvement with a substance that a majority of Americans don’t believe such be criminalized, at least if you believe Rasmussen.

Of course, some people DON’T believe Rasmussen. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, critics of the Rasmussen results argue that the wording of the question skewed the final results. However, I’m not sure that the substitute wording that they suggest would pass muster as unbiased or balanced:

“If they had asked, ‘If you knew that a majority of homicide convicts in New York had smoked marijuana within …

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Who’s ‘the party of civil rights’? That’s the wrong question

Kevin Williamson, writing in National Review, expresses contempt and disgust for what he calls “the outright lie, the utter fabrication with malice aforethought” in modern politics. He then proceeds to indulge in something pretty close to the fabrication that he claims to despise.

Williamson’s thesis is that the Republican Party is and always has been the party that fought hardest for civil rights in this country, and that the Democratic Party has been the party that has fought hardest to sustain white privilege. And he is angry that the reputations of the two parties do not reflect what he perceives as historical reality.

“That Republicans have let Democrats get away with this mountebankery is a symptom of their political fecklessness, and in letting them get away with it the GOP has allowed itself to be cut off rhetorically from a pantheon of Republican political heroes, from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to Susan B. Anthony, who represent an expression of …

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News flash! Obama most frugal president since Ike

From the Marketwatch column at the Wall Street Journal:

“Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.

But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s…..

Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%.”

The column makes many of the points made on this blog in the past. For example, it points out that when Obama took office in 2009, the fiscal 2009 budget year was already four months underway, driven by spending and revenue programs put into place under President Bush.

If we rank spending increases for presidential budgets since 1980, it looks like this:

Reagan, …

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Speaker Ralston, don’t make ethics a partisan issue

Note: This is an edited version of a column that has already appeared on this blog. It is published here as the electronic version of today’s AJC column. Another blog entry will be posted shortly.

– Jay

If you believe House Speaker David Ralston, ethics reform is a liberal cause backed by liberal groups and the liberal media, and conservatives who back ethics reform are being played for suckers.

“In times of great majorities like we enjoy now, we must remember that there are those around us who seek nothing less than to divide us,” he told his fellow Republicans at the state GOP convention in Columbus on Friday. “There are those who would sow the seeds of dissension and discord in order to advance a self-absorbed agenda that’s not consistent with the best interests of our party.

“Let me be very clear. Regardless of the course that others may take, as for me and the people’s House of this state, we are going to stand united, working hard, standing Republican shoulder to …

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More signs — still preliminary — that Iran’s ready to deal

For the moment, I’ll file this under “Believe it when I see it,” but it’s nonetheless encouraging:

From The Washington Post:

“Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency are near agreement on a plan that could lift the veil on some of the Islamic Republic’s past nuclear research, U.N. officials said Tuesday in an announcement that raised hopes for a more comprehensive nuclear accord when Iranian officials meet with six world powers later in the week.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said U.N. and Iranian officials settled most of their differences during talks Monday in the Iranian capital and were moving toward a formal pact on making Iran’s nuclear activities more transparent….

“We had expansive and intensive talks in a positive atmosphere,” Amano told Iranian television after the hastily arranged meeting in Tehran.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, also hailed what he described as “very good talks” with the IAEA leader. “God …

Continue reading More signs — still preliminary — that Iran’s ready to deal »